“I’ve ordered a greenhouse,” my wife announced casually.
“What? We can’t afford a greenhouse. We’ve got Tom’s university bill to pay. Jessica’s rent. Ben’s holiday…”
“Not that sort of greenhouse. A plastic one. Thirty quid.”
My blood pressure returned to normal. Jane explained that we’d be able to grow melons. “Mangoes?” I muttered hopefully.
The greenhouse arrived a few days later. “When are you putting it up?” I asked.
“We’re doing at the weekend,” Jane replied.
‘Putting things up’ has never been my strong suit. An Ikea diagram can reduce me to tears. Constructing a see-through tent from ten yards of plastic sheeting, a few flexible rods and half a dozen tent pegs would test me to the limit.
In the event it was surprisingly easy – largely because Ben added his considerable expertise. Thank you, Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Things started to germinate. Melons seeds arrived in the post. Why stop at mangoes? Papayas, Guava… I cheerfully hummed a calypso.
And then the North Yorkshire weather intervened. So much for Spring. “Strong winds tonight and tomorrow,” the weatherman threatened.
“Do I think I should take it down?” Jane asked.
“No, no,” I replied confidently. “I fastened all the tent pegs down. Trust me.”
I glanced out of the window the next morning. My wife hadn’t bought a greenhouse. Or a tent. She’d bought a sail. The wretched thing was straining at its mooring ropes like a transatlantic yacht. Any moment now it would take off…
Reports are coming in of an unidentified object flying over North Yorkshire. Suggestions that it could be a greenhouse were dismissed as ‘ludicrous’ by the local police.
“Is it alright?” Jane asked as I handed her a cup of tea.
“Rock solid,” I said, praying the weatherman was wrong.
He wasn’t. The gusts continued all day. I got home from work and raced into the garden. The greenhouse had escaped. But fortunately, not very far. It was slumped drunkenly against the hedge. And mercifully unscathed. No rips, tears or gaping holes. Just let the wind drop and we’d be back in St. Lucia.
Spring returned two days later. The construction crew re-convened – to face a tangle of ropes, poles and plastic. But no tent pegs.
“Where are the rest of the tent pegs?”
“I don’t know. How would I know where the tent pegs are?”
“You said you fastened them down. They must still be in the ground. Look for them.”
I trudge miserably round the tent. Sorry, greenhouse. No tent pegs. “They must have been blown away.”
“You’re suggesting they were catapulted through the air?”
“Yes. Read your Sherlock Holmes. When you’ve ruled out everything else what remains must be the truth.”
My wife stopped short of pointing out that what remained was a useless husband. But only because salvation was walking down the garden – in the shape of a 16 year old boy. A 16 year old boy who was casually swinging a bag of tent pegs in his hand.
“Here,” he said, in a fine Clint Eastwood Few Dollars More drawl. “These should do it.”
“Where did you get these?”
“Poundland. When I was in town the other day. Bought a few man-things.”
Man-things? Dear God. First Tom pushes me out of the way and does the DIY. Now Ben was usurping my manhood with a quid’s worth of tent pegs.
My wife swooned over her youngest son. My contribution was entirely forgotten. I was entirely forgotten. Or maybe not. Jane smiled sweetly. “You may as well pick up the dog poo while you’re in the garden. I’m going in for a gin and tonic. And Ben can drink your beer…”
Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it – and you’d like something light and moderately humorous to read – you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 99p on your Kindle. Alternatively the first chronological book, ‘Half Dad Half Fish’ which covers the time when the children were 9, 7 and 4 is available here.